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Neagle agrees to stay with Reds

The Associated Press

The left-hander decided not to force a trade Wednesday night after the Cincinnati Reds agreed to drop the option year off his contract.

Thursday, November 11, 1999

The left-hander decided not to force a trade Wednesday night after the Cincinnati Reds agreed to drop the option year off his contract. That means Neagle eagle he’s always been,” agent Barry Meister said.

Neagle missed most of the first half of the season because of weakness in the back of his shoulder. Strengthening exercises took care of the problem, and he was the Reds’ best starter down the stretch.

He went 6-0 in his last seven starts with a 2.20 earned run average. Overall, Neagle was 9-5 with a 4.27 ERA in 19 starts and one relief appearance.

”If the last two months of the season are any indication, he is the No. 1 starter we thought we were getting,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said.

Neagle came to the Reds from Atlanta last November in the trade for Bret Boone. He had the right to demand a trade after this season, but said during the season that he would be interested in staying if the Reds would agree to a long-term contract.

The Reds declined, but agreed to drop his contract option for 2001 at $5.25 million. That gave Neagle the freedom to become a free agent after next season, when he’ll make $4.75 million.

”We agreed we’d make it a priority to have discussions with the Reds next year about extending our relationship, and we would not necessarily have to do that at whatever his market value was in free agency,” Meister said.

Bowden wants to see more of Neagle before he’s willing to talk about a longer deal.

”Denny made it clear through his agent that he’s willing to sign with us in the future for below-market value,” Bowden said. ”Because Denny’s injuries limited him to half a season last year, we need assurances that he’s the 15-to-20 game winner we traded for last November before we’re willing to talk about long-term deals.”

Neagle’s decision to stay is a huge boost to a rotation in flux. The Reds are not in the bidding for Juan Guzman, who was obtained in a trade with Baltimore on July 31 and had a solid two months with the Reds.

Guzman is a free agent and Bowden has said the club cannot afford his asking price.

The Reds also have uncertainties about No. 1 starter Pete Harnisch, who pitched with a sore shoulder most of last season. Harnisch has decided to try to strengthen the shoulder with exercises in the offseason rather than have surgery to clean it out.